Three students from the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at the Tisch School of the Arts recently had the opportunity to work with Jordan Young, popularly known as DJ Swivel, a Grammy Award-winning music producer who has worked with Beyoncé, Whitney Houston and Kanye West.
Swivel hosted two workshops in which he discussed his career. He then opened multiple engineering sessions to Tisch students where he showed them how songs were created, mixed and more. Afterward, students were encouraged to submit original material so they could win the opportunity to work in the studio with Swivel.
Tisch junior Gian Bravo and Tolu Adeyemo co-produced the song “You Don’t Know,” and fellow Tisch junior Kiah Victoria performed the vocals.
With Victoria and Adeyemo studying abroad for the semester, Bravo submitted the song to the contest without telling them in hopes of surprising them if they won.
“It was even crazier [that we won] because Kiah then told me she was flying to New York as a surprise, and she was able to make it in time for the mix session,” Bravo said. “God works in mysterious ways.”
Tisch sophomore Michael Adubato’s song, “It’s Alright,” also won him the opportunity to work in the studio with Swivel. Adubato, who wrote and produced the track along with Tisch sophomore Hannah Gross, said working with Swivel was helpful for his future career.
“Though I’ve been producing for awhile, I’m just starting to get into more conventional songwriting,” Adubato said. “I’ve got a way to go, but winning the contest was a gratifying personal benchmark.”
Bravo, who has indirectly worked with Swivel in the past, said the producer is good at his job in part because of his rapidity.
“‘You Don’t Know’ has a somewhat complex arrangement and a wide range of unique sounds,” Bravo said. “Swivel was able to put all the sounds in their own places sonically while maintaining a balance throughout the different sections of the song, all in a matter of four hours.”
For both Bravo and Adubato, working with Swivel allowed them to hone their skills.
“It was fun to interact and communicate with Swivel on a musical level in order to help enhance the vision we originally had for the record,” Bravo said.
“It was especially interesting watching him use familiar software and hardware in ways I wouldn’t have thought to,” Adubato said.
Jeff Rabhan, chair of the Clive Davis Institute, said the institute is incredibly fortunate to collaborate with artists like Swivel.
“These sorts of exchanges between leaders in the field and our students are exactly what our educational approach is about, since they both promote creativity and lead to real opportunities for our students in the world of recorded
music,” Rabhan said.
During his session with the students, Swivel said he tried to treat them more like clients.
“There’s something different about actually showing up to a studio outside of school and working with a professional in the business, as opposed to just attending a regular class,” Swivel said.
“I didn’t want this to feel like a course requirement,” he added.
Swivel also said he would love to continue to work with NYU and share his experiences with the students.
“For me, it’s incredibly rewarding to give back to the next generation of music industry professionals by passing along the skills and knowledge that was once passed to me,” he said.
The next step for the winners is to have their tracks mastered by Chris Gehringer, a Grammy Award-winning mastering engineer. Bravo said after Gehringer masters “You Don’t Know,” it will be used for Victoria’s upcoming EP, which is currently in the works.
Adubato, on the other hand, is unsure of the public release date and details for “It’s Alright.”
“In the meantime, I have plans to show the track to my mom,” he said.
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, May 2 print edition. Tanay Hudson is a staff writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.